Yesterday Eddy Keshishian sent us a picture of Camp Life. a rare Brussels tapestry from the third series of The Art of War, circa 1735.  This tapestry is 9ft  2in (278cm) tall and 9ft 11 in (303 cm) wide.

Following on from his father, Lambert De Hondt who designed the first series of the Arts of War for the Le Clerc and Van der Borcht workshops of Brussels in 1695, which received many commissions from  European rulers, Philippe De Hondt  designed the Victories of the Duke of Marlborough (Blenheim Palace, Oxford, the palace was originally intended to be a reward to John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, from a grateful nation for the duke’s military triumphs against the French and Bavarians during the War of the Spanish Succession, culminating in the 1704 Battle of Blenheim) in 1712-15 and the Art of War ÍÍ of 1715-20, both woven in the workshop of Judocus de Vos  of Brussels.

Urban Leyniers Commissioned Art of War III

Philippe de Hondt was registered as a master in the Brussels painters’ guild in 1708 and with the popularity of these military sets, inspired Urban Leyniers to commission the Art of War III series from Philippe De Hondt in 1735 when, after the death of the principal designer Jan Van Orley, De Hondt was granted priveliges and he then became the most important Brussels tapestry designer, this set is mentioned in the Leyniers inventory as cat no 13.The large figurative tapestry series of the grand gout style, as those designed by Jan Van Orley was becoming unfashionable and was replaced by the gout moderne , now known as the Regency or Rococo style, depicting modern life with peasant scenes and  military compositions with figures of small personage.


There was a set of six tapestries, bought in 1750 and signed by Leyniers, that survived in the Muschelsaal of the Rathaus of Cologne of which Camp Life is similar to the present tapestry. A further similar example was illustrated by Joseph Duverger in Aantekeningen betreffende de tapijten in Artes Textiles 7 (1971). These two examples of Camp Life are the only ones recorded, both with picture frame borders of different designs.

 There are design details which are interesting to note, the laurel leaf wreath on the flag pole signifies victory, the three figures with moustaches and darker facial tones, one on horseback, have uniforms which differ from the rest and they are all carrying the pallasch type of sword which was popular in Poland.

The present rare tapestry, made of fine wool and silk threads, is exceptionally fresh in retaining original colour and of excellent condition. The size is original, though the border has been removed.


Further Reading

Koenraad.Brosens, A Contextual Study of Brussels tapestry, dye works and tapestry workshop of Urban Leyniers. 2004, Cat no 9/16a.

Alain Wace, The Marlborough Tapestries at Blenheim Palace, Phaidon, 1968, p111, pl 74


About Keshishian

At Keshishian you will find the expertise of a connoisseur with the passion of a collector, a successful combination in bringing to your attention exceptional items, offering clients one of the world’s most beautiful collection of carpets and tapestries, formed with our ethos of quality over quantity.. taking William Blake’s quote of… “there’s no great period in Art only great artists from each period,”  the collection covers the periods of the 16th to 19th centuries.   They are specialist in the Arts & Crafts, Art Deco  to the Pop Art & Op Art periods. The collection is divided between the gallery in London and in New York by appointment.